Police in Japan have launched a murder investigation into the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe – but little is known about the suspect who was arrested at the scene of the fatal shooting on Friday.
Abe, 67, was pronounced dead by doctors at the Nara Medical University Hospital, at 5:03 p.m local time on Friday, just over five hours after being shot while delivering a campaign speech in front of a small crowd on a street.
Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, admitted to shooting Abe, Nara Nishi police said during a news conference on Friday. Yamagami, who is unemployed, told investigators he holds hatred toward a certain group that he thought Abe was linked to.
Police have not named the group.
Yamagami is being investigated as a suspect in a murder case, to which 90 investigators have been assigned, according to police.
The suspect used a homemade gun in the shooting, police said, and images from the scene showed what appeared to be a weapon with two cylindrical metal barrels wrapped in black tape. Authorities later confiscated several handmade pistol-like items from the suspect’s apartment.
The weapon was a gun-like item that measured 40 centimeters (about 16 inches) long and 20 centimeters wide, police said.
Yamagami made multiple types of guns with iron pipes that were wrapped in adhesive tape, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported, citing the police. The police found guns with three, five, and six iron pipes as barrels.
The suspect inserted bullets in the pipe, which he had bought parts for online, police said, according to NHK. Police believe the suspect used the strongest weapon he made in the assassination, NHK added.
At the time of the shooting, Abe was speaking in support of ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates ahead of Upper House elections on July 10. Despite resigning as Japan’s prime minister in 2020 due to health reasons, Abe remained an influential figure in the country’s political landscape and continued to campaign for the LDP.
Japan’s National Police Agency said it will review security arrangements put in place before Friday’s shooting, according to NHK. Security was being handled by Nara prefectural police, which drew up a security plan for the former prime minister while he was in the city.
The agency said several dozen officers and security personnel from the Tokyo Metropolitan police were on duty and had reportedly watched Abe from all sides during his speech, NHK said.